Allow this boast

I shouldn’t boast, given that I criticize Donald J. Trump for doing so.

Just bear with me for a moment.

I have just logged the 402nd consecutive day posting a blog on High Plains Blogger. I happen to believe that’s boast-worthy.

You might ask: Why?

It’s because I like to think I have a lot to say. It’s importance, of course, is open to interpretation. Much of my blog involves political and policy matters; less of it involves life experience, but I do consider that important, too. I also have series of posts on the blog: I talk about retirement and I also discuss adventures my wife and I have with Toby the Puppy; and I also look back from time to time on the full-time journalism career that concluded nearly eight years ago.

On that last point, my journalism endeavor hasn’t ended completely. I wrote for a public TV station in Amarillo for a time after leaving print journalism; I also wrote for a CBS-TV affiliate, also in Amarillo. Since moving to the Metroplex, I have become a freelance blogger for KETR-FM public radio at Texas A&M University-Commerce. And … I am a freelance reporter for a group of weekly newspapers, writing chiefly for the Farmersville Times.

Through it all, I have kept firing away on my blog. It’s what I do.

Some folks tell me I am a “prolific” blogger. I take that as a supreme compliment. I have help in that regard. The world is bursting with news on which to comment. It’s been that way since, oh, roughly about the time 9/11 occurred. That event changed the world and brought bloggers and other commentators like me along with it.

So, this blog continues apace. I am thrilled to be able to contribute some small perspective to the huge world of opinion.

Hey, it beats working!

Mayor moves on … stays put

BLOGGER’S NOTE: This item was posted originally on KETR-FM’s website.

Princeton Mayor John-Mark Caldwell only thought he was resigning from the City Council after moving to Rockwall.

It turns out, according to the city’s legal counsel, Caldwell is required to stay in office until after the next election, which occurs on Nov. 3. That’s what the state requires, so Caldwell must remain in place, gavel in hand, running City Council meetings.

As the Princeton Herald reported: The law requiring that a public official continue serving until a replacement is installed was explained by City Attorney Clark McCoy at the … July 27 regular city council meeting. “This is known as the holdover in office provision,” McCoy said. He explained that the law is in place to assure continuity in office and that is the duty of the officeholder to continue serving.

This is even though when he adjourns the meetings, he goes home to the next county over.

I find that rather weird. But that’s just me, I suppose.

Princeton does have a mayor pro tem, Councilman Steve Deffibaugh who, according to the statutes governing the city, can serve as mayor in the absence of the elected individual. Princeton, I should point out, doesn’t have a home-rule charter, and is governed under “general law” established by the state. It well might be that had Princeton been able to approve a charter — which it has failed to do in four municipal elections — there wouldn’t be a problem.

Caldwell had tendered his resignation after it was revealed he had moved to Rockwall. He said when he submitted it that he intended to stay in office until his term expired in 2021, but then changed his mind. It now turns out that he has to stay for a little while longer anyway.

I am just one Princeton resident among the 12,000 or so who live here, but my thought is that the mayor pro tem ought to grab the gavel and run the council meetings, allowing the outgoing mayor to go on his way, establishing a new life in his new community. I should point out that Princeton’s mayor doesn’t vote on issues before the council, except to break a tie. It’s that general law thing that prohibits a mayoral vote.

The election is coming up. Filing for the seat is still open. One candidate has filed: former Princeton Independent School District Superintendent Philip Anthony. My hunch is that Anthony will be the overwhelming favorite to be elected to fill out the rest of Caldwell’s mayoral term.

I am a bit baffled, though, as to why Caldwell just can’t walk away as he intended to do when he turned in his resignation.

Hurt the Bible, hurt God?

Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Hmm. I have to wonder whether Donald J. “Demagogue in Chief” Trump is campaigning like a man who believes he is going to lose his job as president of the United States.

He said today that Joe Biden wants to “hurt the Bible, hurt God.”

I am shaking my noggin in utter disbelief.

How do I assess what flew out of Trump’s mouth?

For instance, how does a worldly politician “hurt God”? Well, I won’t go there. You get my drift. The Almighty is beyond being “hurt” by a mere human being.

However, I do want to discuss the utter astonishment at hearing Donald Trump — of all people — accuse a political foe of denigrating issues and matters of sincere faith.

Joe Biden is a lifelong Catholic. He smudges his forehead with ash on Ash Wednesday. He goes to Mass regularly. He takes communion. Trump? His association with matters of faith is, um, for show only. I need only to point you directly to that hideous photo op across the street from the White House a few weeks ago when Trump stood in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, holding an upside-down Bible. He didn’t go into the house of worship. Oh, no. He stood outside to have pictures taken.

Donald Trump has no basis on which he can criticize another individual’s religious faith. Donald Trump has never sought forgiveness for his sins; he has never admitted to mistakes; he once referred to a New Testament book as “Two Corinthians.”

Trump’s desperation has become evident as he stands in public places and says things such as what he said today about Joe Biden.

Consider, too, that he said Biden is “against guns. He is against God.” Think of the idiocy right there. Guns and God juxtaposed in adjoining sentences.

When I discuss the incoherence Trump displays while speaking to the nation, this is precisely to what I am referring. To think, therefore, that Trump brags about “acing” a cognitive exam, which is given to determine whether someone is afflicted with dementia.

So, we are witnessing Donald Trump trying to find something, anything, to hang on a foe who at this moment seems headed for a smashing victory over a president who doesn’t have a clue about the job he was elected to perform.

How does Trump defend his record?

How is this supposed to work?

Donald Trump campaigned for the presidency in 2016 by proclaiming that the country was in dire peril. He said “I, alone” can fix the nation. He won the election and then delivered an inaugural speech remembered for one line: “This American carnage ends right here and right now.” It was a dark, foreboding speech.

Four years later he is campaigning for re-election by summoning voters to the same fear he harvested in 2016.

How is that supposed to make voters feel better another four years under the leadership of the Carnival Barker in Chief?

Donald Trump is presiding over a nation that is in infinitely worse condition than it was when he took office. How does he tell us he can repair what is so badly broken now?

To be fair, he didn’t cause the pandemic that has killed 160,000 Americans. His failure to respond proactively at the front end, though, clearly must be considered the cause for so many of those deaths. Oh, and the economy? It has collapsed. The one aspect that Trump sought to hail as his signature positive argument has been destroyed by the pandemic.

He is going after Joe Biden, the presumed Democratic nominee, hammer and tong. He is accusing Biden of wanting to ruin the suburbs, take our guns away, of being “against God,” of being a “far-left” politician.

Where are the accomplishments on which Trump wants us to re-elect him? They don’t exist. Trump’s campaign looks almost identical to the previous one.

How does this equate to a re-election strategy?

I am baffled.

Nothing to celebrate

The world changed forever 75 years ago to this very day.

That was when a B-29 bomber took off from Tinian Island in the Pacific Ocean and dropped a single explosive device on Hiroshima, Japan. In an instant, tens of thousands of people were vaporized; many thousands more would die from the effects of that nuclear blast.

The nation was involved in a world war with Japan. Another airplane would take off three days later and inflict the same level of destruction on Nagasaki, Japan. A week after that second blast, the Japanese surrendered. World War II was over.

They danced in the streets of this country. A few days after surrendering, Japanese and Allied officials met in Tokyo harbor to sign the documents.

We look back on this day with grimness. It’s not a moment to celebrate. It is an event to commemorate with somber reflection. I am not particularly proud to have been born in the only nation on Earth to have used nuclear weapons in war. Indeed, it is a grim reminder of the path we took to reach that moment.

We had been fighting Japan, Nazi Germany and (until 1943) fascist Italy since 1941. Then in April 1945, our commander in chief, President Roosevelt, died in Georgia and suddenly, a modest man from Missouri, Harry Truman, was thrust into the role of president.

He didn’t know about the atomic weapon being developed in New Mexico until someone from the Joint Chiefs of Staff told him about this new weapon that could end the war quickly. President Truman weighed the cost of unleashing this device against the cost of invading Japan; he chose to use the bomb.

I have long embraced President Truman’s decision. Why? I had skin in that game. You see, my father was in the Philippines when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were incinerated. He was a proud Navy sailor who might have taken part in that invasion of Japan had the order been given and, yes, he could have died in that effort. He had survived intense combat in The Med and likely figured he was living on borrowed time.

So, you must understand that President Truman’s decision allowed me to be born into this world.

Do I celebrate those twin events? Do I perform a happy dance just knowing a wartime president’s resolve allowed me to enter this world? I do none of that.

I merely want to echo the refrain we have heard in the decades since that fateful event: Never again.

COVID won’t ‘disappear’

Donald Trump keeps repeating the lie that won’t die.

The coronavirus is going to “disappear,” he said today … again, for the umpteenth time since the pandemic first erupted.

He said it in February. Again in March, in April, May, June, July and now in August.

Trump keeps telling us the virus is just going to vanish. He said that’s what “things do.” They disappear, he said.

What about the deaths, Mr. President? When is this bozo going to say a single word of compassion, empathy, genuine sorrow for those who have died or for those who have lost loved ones?

He won’t. He’ll keep telling us the lie that won’t die.

Disgraceful.

Don’t use the White House to accept GOP nomination

I am officially horrified at the prospect of Donald J. “Nitwit in Chief” Trump doing what he is planning to do.

He is considering speaking to the nation from the White House … to accept the 2020 Republican Party’s presidential nomination.

OK, let me be clear. Do not do this, Mr. President!

I get that presidents on occasion use the White House as background to gain political favor. They call it the “Rose Garden Strategy.” Presidents during election years will use the Rose Garden as a backdrop to sign legislation, or to greet groups of supporters, or to hold meetings with members of the House and Senate. Occasionally, presidents use video from these gatherings in their campaign ads.

Trump, though, takes the Rose Garden Strategy to new levels. He called a press conference recently ostensibly to talk about China, but turned event into an hour-long campaign rally-style riff against Joe Biden, Democrats and the media.

If Donald Trump is going to accept the GOP nomination somewhere other than in Charlotte, N.C. — where the party has returned after moving it briefly to Jacksonville, Fla. — I have an idea or two for him to ponder.

How about accepting the nomination at one of his resorts? Maybe in Bedminster, N.J., or in Mar-a-Lago, Fla.?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pulled no punches today in condemning the idea of Trump accepting a partisan political nomination inside the White House. She said it is wrong and possibly unconstitutional.

It’s also crass. It cheapens our house. Donald Trump is a tenant there. He needs to take great care of our house. For the president to use the East Room, or the Oval Office, or the Rose Garden, or the residence as a backdrop to make a purely political speech is hideous on its face.

If only this individual had any understanding or appreciation for the tradition that surrounds this noble office.

‘Far left candidate?’ Really?

Donald J. Trump is killin’ me, I tell ya. He’s killin’ me!

The Republican president is trying to portray Joseph R. Biden Jr. as a “radical far-left” presidential candidate. Yes, the man who served for 36 years in the U.S. Senate and eight years as vice president of the United States, is a far-lefty, squishy liberal … according to the man with no discernible principle on which to run.

So now he is seeking to categorize his opponent as something he clearly is not.

Joe Biden is a mainstream Democrat. He is a working-class guy. He grew up in a family of modest means. Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 and didn’t become old enough to serve until the period between his election and when he took the oath of office.

He has been strong on criminal justice reform. He favors legislation that helps working families.

He is not going to “destroy the suburbs.” Biden is not going to take away our guns, dismantling the Second Amendment.

Yet the Demagogue in Chief will seek to have voters believe that Biden is beholden to some far-left ideology. He isn’t.

Let’s on hold on with both hands. This campaign will be as ugly as it can possibly get.

‘I don’t know John Lewis’

Donald J. Trump’s narcissism was on full display when Axios.com reporter Jonathan Swan asked him to comment on the life and legacy of the late John Lewis, the beloved civil rights icon and congressman.

This is a brief compilation of what five U.S. presidents said about Lewis, concluding with what Trump told Swan:

George W. Bush: “He always thought of others. He always believed in preaching the gospel, in word and in deed, insisting that hate and fear had to be answered with love and hope.”
Jimmy Carter: “Throughout his remarkable life, John Lewis has been a blessing to countless people … His enormous contributions will continue to be an inspiration for generations to come.”
Bill Clinton: “John Lewis hoped for and imagined and worked and moved for his beloved community. He took a savage beating on more than one day. He fought the good fight, he kept the faith.”
Barack Obama: “America was built by people like John Lewis. He, as much as anyone in our history, brought this country a little closer to our highest ideals.”
Donald Trump: “I don’t know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration.”
Umm, Lewis didn’t attend President Bush’s first inauguration, either, but the 43rd president was one of those who eulogized him. Donald Trump’s narcissism is flat-out evil.

Biden feeling the heat

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Joe Biden is feeling the heat.

Who does he select as a vice-presidential running mate? When does he make that decision? It’s coming at him fast and furiously.

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, one of the House members who prosecuted Donald Trump’s impeachment in the Senate, says Reps. Val Demings of Florida and Karen Bass of California would be excellent picks. I guess he wants one of those House colleagues to join the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee on the party’s ticket. They are African-American, as is Jeffries.

Then there’s former Pennsylvania Gov. and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Ed Rendell, who says Biden must select someone right now. As in now, man!

Rendell’s demand makes me laugh. Joe Biden will determine when it’s time to make the announcement, to which I want to tell Rendell simply: Shut the hell up and let your party’s nominee go through the process with all deliberate care.

Biden laid down the marker early when he declared his running mate will be a woman. Whether it’s a woman of color or a white woman depends, I suppose, on what the former vice president determines is in the best interest of the nation he hopes to lead.

Indeed, the first and most critical criterion must be: Is the person with whom he runs equipped to lead the country?

Meanwhile, the pressure is building. Be strong, Joe Biden.